What if BP can't stop the leak?
There's a comment from Dougr, a reader of the very excellent blog, The Oil Drum, that's freaking out a lot of people. It posits a very frightening idea — BP's leaky Gulf of Mexico oil well may be so damaged that's it's beyond repair.
Indeed, it's possible that the well could completely break apart, leaving open the bore hole leading into the oil reserve. Oil and methane would be free of any man-made encumbrances and would burst out into the water at a rate of 150,000 barrels a day or more. There would be no chance of stopping the leak at the point and it would gush on until the pressure of the sea equalized out with the pressure of the oil, something that could take years to happen. Ultimately we could see over 100 billion gallons of oil — that's 100,000,000,000 — and an equally large measure of methane gas, a powerful greenhouse gas, unleashed on the world.
It's important to keep in mind that Doug is just a guy leaving a comment on a blog. But at the same time, it seems like the guy knows what he's talking about.
Take the time to read his entire post.
Needless to say, if Dougr's scenario plays out we'd be pretty well screwed. That much oil would entirely wipe out of the Gulf of Mexico's fishing industry (no fish, no fishing), bespoil most, if not all, of the Gulf's shoreline, and would end up creeping up and around Florida on the Loop Current to soak the East Coast of the United States. It'd be catastrophically disastrous to both the environment and our economy to say nothing about how badly it would affect BP CEO Tony Hayward's day.
I can't help but think of the Sherwin Williams Paint logo:
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